The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 12. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1801.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
A LIST OF THE ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY.
1. AUGUSTINE, or as he is usually stiled, St. Augustine, from his being the apostle of the English nation, being a monk of the order of St. Benedict, and abbot of St. Andrew's, in Rome, a convent founded by the pope himself, was sent into Britain by pope Gregory, in the year 596, to preach the Christian religion to the unbelieving Britons. He had come part of the way on his journey, when wanting courage to go forward, he wrote to the pope, to request his leave to return back; but this the pope refused, and earnestly exhorted him to proceed, which at last Augustine consented to, and arriving with his companions, forty in number, and several interpreters, in the island of Thanet, he was received hospitably by Ethelbert, king of Kent, and conducted to Canterbury, where he then resided with his queen Bertha, who was at that time a Christian, to which faith Augustine, by his persuasive doctrine soon converted the Pagan king, whom he baptized with multitudes of his people, as is said by the writers of his life; after which the king gave him his place to reside in, and retired with his court to Reculver, about seven miles distant.
Augustine having thus acquired for himself and his companions, a settled place of residence at Canterbury, went over into France, to Arles, where he was consecrated a bishop, by Elentherius, bishop of that place, (fn. 1) but without a title to any particular church, as if he was appointed at large to be the apostle or universal bishop of the nation, (fn. 2) which was, in a great measure, restored by him to the Christian faith, which, though it had formerly flourished in England, was at that time almost entirely lost from it.
Upon his return from Arles, Augustine sent Laurence and Justus, two of his companions, to Rome, to acquaint the pope with his success in Britain, and to request his direction in several articles concerning his religious government. They came back in 601, and brought with them the pope's answers, (fn. 3) and a number of monks to help them in their labours of converting the Pagans here; and as a reward of his success, pope Gregory invested him with archiepiscopal authority in 603, by sending him the pall, (fn. 4) which was esteemed the badge and livery of it; (fn. 5) but it appears that Augustine had the liberty of fixing the patriarchal chair wherever he pleased; for the pope having sent the pall to him at London, he changed his determination, and fixed it at Canterbury, the chief city and royal residence; the metropolis, as Bede calls it, of the kings of Kent; a strong inducement, added to those already mentioned before, for his giving the preference to it; on the reception of the pall, Augustine having been consecrated, was inthroned in his see, with the apostolic ornaments. (fn. 6)
In Canterbury, he founded two monasteries of the benedictine order, one of which, situated close to his palace, he dedicated to our Saviour Christ, in which he built his cathedral church, and fixed the partriarchal chair of his archbishopric in it; the other, situated at a small distance further eastward, but without the walls of the city, he dedicated to the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, which was after wards known by the name of St. Augustine's abbey, as a place of sepulture for the king and his successors, kings of Kent, and for himself and his successors in the see of Canterbury. In the year 604, Augustine ordained Mellitus and Justus, bishops, the latter to the see of Rochester, where he had prevailed on king Ethelbert to found a cathedral church, the former to that of London, where the king had founded another like church, in order to convert the East Saxons to the Christian faith.
When he perceived his end to draw near, he prudently ordained a successor in his see, lest upon his death a vacancy should be a detriment to his church, which as yet, from its infant state, was but weak, and therefore the more easy to be shaken. (fn. 7)
Writers differ much as to the year of Augustine's death, some stating it to have happened as early as 604, and others as late as 613, (fn. 8) though the year 605 seems to have been that in general adopted. He was buried within the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, before mentioned, without the walls of the city. (fn. 9)
Godseline, who was first a monk of St. Bertin's, in St. Omer's, and afterwards of St. Augustine's, in Canterbury, and wrote the life of St. Augustine, says, that the cross which augustine, on his coming into England, had in his hands, was remaining in his time in this monastery, with this inscription, Crux Augustini; and that there was there too another cross, made of pophry marble, ornamented with small plates of silver; and there were some who afferted, that this too had been likewise the cross of St. Augustine. (fn. 10)
As to the chronology of the archbishops, it cannot be more properly mentioned, than in this place, that great is the difference of writers relating to it, and Mr. Battely differs very widely from almost all the rest of them; but he tells us, in his Cantuaria Sacra, pt. ii. p. 65, that he has followed that most accurate writer, Mr. Wharton, whose authority may be relied on with more asforance, than that of Mr. Somner; for that the former was an author, who had, as he deserved, the general reputation of exactness and faithfulness in his writings; and his particular dissertation concerning the true succession of the archbishops of Canterbury, was diligently and judiciously compiled. Dr. Burnet had indeed been pleased to charge the two volumes of his Historical Collections, called Anglia Sacra, (in the first of which is the above dissertation) with being exceedingly faulty, but without any particular instance being mentioned by him. However, being thus warned, he, Mr. Battely, had not ventured to take his chronological account of the archbishops upon trust, but had carefully examined it, with a full purpose to have corrected the errors, if he had found any such in it; and that he had confirmed the chronology of some of the archbishops, from the registers of this church, the Saxon chronicle, Bede, and other writers.
2. LAURENCE, who had been nominated by Augustine, before his death, as his successor, became accordingly the next archbishop of this see, (fn. 11) and made use of one of those palls which pope Gregory had sent to his predecessor, of which there were two then left, (fn. 12) and trod in the footsteps of his predecessor. As he succeeded him in the patriarchal chair, so he did in his labours of propagating the Christian faith, even to the remotest part of Britain, (fn. 13) to the Northern Scots, and to the Irish likewise. In his time king Ethelbert died, whose son and successor king Eadbald, in the beginning of his reign, being a Pagan, became an avowed enemy and persecutor of the Christians and their religion.
In the year 613, archbishop Laurence returning from the conversion of the Irish and Scots, consecrated the church of this monastery, in the presence of king Ethelbert and a large multitude of people, and then removed the body of Augustine into the north portico of it; but those of Letard and Bertha, which had been buried without the church, on account of its not being consecrated at the time of their deaths, he buried in the portico of St. Martin, where likewise the remains of king Ethelbert, who died three years afterwards, were deposited near to his queen. (fn. 14) But Eadbald at last being convinced of his errors, renounced them, and being converted to the Christian faith, was baptized by archbishop Laurence, and founded a church within this monastery, to the honour of the Mother of God; and was besides, a good benefactor to it. (fn. 15) Having sat in this see for five years, he died on Feb. 3, in 619, (fn. 16) and was buried in the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, was buried in the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, near his predecssor. (fn. 17)
3. MELLITUS, who has been already mentioned before, succeeded him in the patriarchal chair. He was one of Augustine's companions, who came over into Britain with him, and was afterwards made by him bishop of London, where he made himself eminent by his conversion of the East Saxons, and of Sebert their king to Christianity; but on the death of Sebert, and his three sons, who succeeded to his kingdom, becoming Pagans agian, Mellitus was driven from his bishopric, and retired first into Kent, and then into France; (fn. 18) from whence, however, he returned into England in less than a year, upon the invitation of king Eadbald, who yet could by no means obtain permission for him to return to his diocese, so that he continued at Canterbury, being entertained by archbishop Laurence, to the time of his being constituted archbishop himself.
The pall which he made use of, was the third and last of those which pope Gregory had sent over to his predecessor Augustine. Having sat in this see for the space of five years, discharging his office with great care, piety and integrity, he died on April 24, 624, of the gout, (fn. 19) and was buried with his predecessors in the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, without the walls of Canterbury. (fn. 20) Bede gives him the character of being infirm in body, being afflicted with the gout, but strong in mind, that his birth was noble, but the greatness of his mind still more so. (fn. 21)
4. JUSTUS succeeded him as archbishop; he was a Roman born, and a monk of the order of St. Benedict, before he was sent into England by pope Gregory, which was in the year 601, that he might assist Augustine in replanting Christianity throughout Britain; his diligence and success in which, were equally wonderful. He was first constituted bishop of Rochester, and thence translated to this see, and as a confirmation of his metropolitical dignity and authority, pope Boniface V. sent him the pall, being the first since those transmitted to Augustine, as mentioned before, and afterwards in an answer to a letter from Justus, for the purpose, more strictly confirmed the primacy of this church to him. (fn. 22) Archbishop Justus afterwards consecrated Romanus, bishop of Rochester, and Paulinus, whom he sent to York; he died in the year 627, (fn. 23) and was buried in the same monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, with his predecessors. (fn. 24)
5. HONORIUS was next made archbishop, after the see had continued vacant about eighteen months. He was a Roman by birth, and had been a disciple of pope Gregory the great, and was a venerable and learned man; he was confirmed at Rome, and afterwards received the pall from the pope (fn. 25) with a letter, in which was a confirmation of the primacy to him; on his return he was consecrated at Lincoln, by Paulinus, archbishop of York. (fn. 26) He is said by some, to have divided his province into parishes in 636, that he might with more ease appoint ministers to particular congregations, (fn. 27) though Mr. Selden and others judge otherwise, and that he only divided his province into bishoprics or dioceses, of which he established some new ones in it, and that the division of it into parishes, may, more probably be attributed to archbishop Theodore his next successor but one. He sat in this chair twenty-six years, promoting the cause of religion, and lived to the end of September, anno 654; (fn. 28) he was, as his prede cessors had been, buried in the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, without the gates of the city. He is said by Capgrave to have been canonized after his death. (fn. 29)
6. DEUSDEDIT, or Adeodatus, for I find him called by both these names, which were given him at his consecration, his own original name having been Frithona, succeeded next as archbishop, being the first native of this land promoted to this see, which was after a vacancy of eighteen months; (fn. 30) he was consecrated by Ithamar, bishop of Rochester, at Canterbury, and received the pall from the pope. He was a man of good learning, and eminent for his holiness of life, qualities which recommended him for the government of this church, in which he acquitted himself faithfully till the day of his death, which is said to have been on July 14, in the year 664, (fn. 31) and was buried, as all his predecessors were, in the church porch of the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul. (fn. 32) He is said by Capgrave to have been canonized after his death. Pitseus says, he wrote memoirs of the lives and actions of his predecessors.
After his death, one Wighard, who was an Englishman, was sent with a recommendation from the kings of Kent and Northumberland, to pope Vitellianus to Rome; but the pestilence raging there at that time, he died with most of his attendants, of it, upon which the pope appointed Adrian, abbot of Thiridanum, near Naples, and African by birth, to be archbishop in his room, but he would not be persuaded to undertake the charge of it, but after some delay on the pope's strong importunity, recommended Theodore to it, whom the pope approved of, on condition that Adrian, afterwards made abbot of St. Augustine's, in Canterbury, would accompany him unto England, to assist him in his office, and for fear, lest being a Greek, Theodore being born at Tharsus, in Cicilia, should introduce any Asiatic ceremonies or usages.
7. THEODORE being thus appointed archbishop, after a vacancy of the see for four years, was consecrated in 668, at Rome, being then aged 66 years; whence he set off for England with Adrian, but was a year and an half before he arrived, though without his companion, who was detained some time longer. He was a man of courage, good sense, and of singular learning, being eminently skilled in the Latin and Greek tongues, as well as in the customs of both those churches.
He is said to have been the first, who, properly speaking, exercised the authority and power of an archbishop here, (fn. 33) to whom the whole bishops and clergy of Britain consented to submit, for he extended his jurisdiction even on the other side of the river Humber, and being intrusted with a legantine power over England, Scotland and Ireland, he visited all places, deposed and ordained bishops at his pleasure, and reformed and corrected whatever appeared to him amiss. (fn. 34)
He introduced several new doctrines and practices into the church; one of the most important of which, was, that of auricular consession, as necessary to absolution. By his influence, all the English churches were united and brought to a perfect uniformity in discipline and worship; bishoprics, too large, were divided, and many new ones erected, great men were encouraged to build parish churches, by declaring them and their successors patrons of those churches; a regular provision was made for the clergy in all the kingdoms of the heptarchy, by the imposition of a certain tax on every village, from which the most obscure ones were not exempted; by these and other wise regulations, introduced by this prelate, one of the greatest men that ever filled this patriarchal chair, the church of England became a regular compact body, furnished with a competent number of bishops and inferior clergy under their metropolitan, the archbishop of this see.
He held three councils; one at Hartford in 674, a second at Hatfield in 680, and another at Twiford, in Northumberland, in 684, and at the second of them, at the king of Mercia's request, he divided his kingdom into five provinces or bishoprics, (fn. 35) and he is said by some, to have first divided his province into distinct parishes, though as has been mentioned before, this is attributed by others to his predecessor next but one, archbishop Honorius. He was a great promoter of learning, and so liberal a patron of learned men, that whoever wished to be instructed in divinity, had immediately masters to teach them. He founded a school at Canterbury, of which mention has been made before, and the method of singing in churches, which bebefore was only known in Kent, was by his means spread, and began to be learned in all the churches of England, (fn. 36) and it was chiefly by his endeavours that learning so flourished in this island, that from a nursery it became a peculiar seminary of philosophy.
He brought over with him a large library of Latin and Greek books, the names of some of which, as well as the acts of his pontificate, which were consisiderable, are recorded in the antiquities of the British church, by archbishop Parker. (fn. 37) Having sat inthis see for near twenty-one years, which are recorded as being most happy ones to the English nation, (fn. 38) he died on Sept. 19, in 690, very aged and infirm, being 88 years old, and was buried in the church of the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, afterwards called St. Augustine's monastery, and not in the porch of it, which was full, all his predecessors, six in number, having been buried there. (fn. 39) He is said by Capgrave to have been canonized after his death. Pitseus says, he wrote a book of the bishops of Canterbury, his predecessors, and among the Harleian manuscripts, No. 438–2, is one written by him called Liber Pænitentialis. (fn. 40)
8. BRITHWALD was the next archbishop, being the second Englishman preferred to it. He had been first a monk and then abbot of Glastonbury, where having presided for ten years, he quitted it for the abbotship of Reculver, whence he was advanced to this patriarchal chair on July 1, 692, and was consecrated the next year (fn. 41) by Bregwine, or Godwine, metropolitan of Wales. (fn. 42) He had been trained up in the knowledge of the holy scriptures, and in the exercise of strict ecclesiastical discipline; he is said to have done many things for the good of his church. (fn. 43) He held a synod at Cliff, and another at Bacanceld in 694, (fn. 44) and in 697 another council at Berkhampstede, and six years afterwards he held another with Alfred, king of Northumberland, in that prince's dominions, at a place called Onestufield, or Osterfield, in which Wlfred, bishop of York, was again deposed.
The Saxon chronicle says, that he caused written charters to be made, to confirm to the church of Canterbury and other religious houses, their lands, donations and privileges; and Spelman and Casaubon agree with Somner, that the monasteries in Canterbury, had no written charters nor muniments before this.
In a charter of king Wightred, this archbishop is stiled Primas Totius Britannie, which title Birchington says, was first given to him by pope Sergius. No archbishop continued so long in this see as he did, either before or since his time, for he sat in this patriarchal chair thirty-one years and an half, and dying on the 27th of June, anno 731, worn out with old age, he was buried near his predecessor in the same monastery. (fn. 45)
9. TATWYN, born in the province of Mercia, being a priest in the monastery of Brodun, or Bredun, in Mercia, (fn. 46) succeeded him as archbishop in June 731, (fn. 47) and was consecrated the same month in his own church, by the bishops of Winchester, London, Lichfield and Rochester, and afterwards received the pall. (fn. 48) He is much commended for his love of religion, and his skill in the holy scriptures; (fn. 49) having sat in this see for the space of three years; he died on July 30, anno 734, (fn. 50) and was buried with his predecessors in the church of the monastery of St. Augustine. (fn. 51)
10. NOTHELM succeeded him as archbishop. He was a priest, or according to Thorn, arch-priest of the church of St. Paul, in London; (fn. 52) he was consecrated archbishop in 735, and received the pall from the pope, (fn. 53) and dying on 17th October, in the year 741, was buried by his predecessors in the church of St. Augustine's abbey. (fn. 54)
11. CUTHBERT was his successor, who was translated from the see of Hereford, about the year 741, and afterwards received the pall from the pope at Rome. He was descended of an illustrious family, a man of severe manners, and made up of goodness itself; (fn. 55) five years after his translation to this see, that is, in 747, by the council of Bonisace, bishop of Mentz. he held a synod of the English bishops at Cliff, near Rochester, (fn. 56) to regulate the monks and to reform the irregularities with which the church of England was at that time overspread, (fn. 57) Ethelbald, king of Mercia, with his nobles, being then present and consenting to it; (fn. 58) the constitutions of which may be seen in the British Councils and other books. He was the first who obtained the privilege of having church-yards to the churches in this kingdom, within the walls of towns and cities, for the purpose of burying in them; (fn. 59) for it was a law among the Romans, borrowed of the Grecians, and inserted into their twelve tables, that none should be buried or burned within any town, so that all were buried either in the fields, along the highwayside (to put passengers in mind of their mortality) or at the top, or the feet of mountains; and this kind of interment, by general custom, was used both by Jews and Gentiles, as may be found illustrated at large by Weever in his Funeral Monuments. (fn. 60) Hence it was, that Augustine had procured the ground on part of which he afterwards erected his abbey, lying without the city walls, for a place of sepulture for all the succeeding archbishops of this see.
Having obtained this general privilege, he procured in 743, that which rendered him most gracious and dear to this convent, which was a licence from Eadbert, king of Kent, and from the pope likewise, that the bodies of the archbishops which before had been buried at St. Augustine's, should in future be buried within his monastery of Christ-church; for which purpose he erected, near the east end of the cathedral, a church or chapel, which he dedicated to St. John Baptist, and ordained, that it should be the burial-place for the future archbishops, and dying 7 kal. Nov. in 758, his funeral was accordingly solemnized in it. (fn. 61) He is said to have borne for his arms, Argent, on a fess, gules, three cross-croslets, fitchee of the first.
12. BREGWYN succeeded him (fn. 62) on the feast of St. Michael, next year. (fn. 63) He was a native of Saxony, though educated in England, and is recorded to have been a man much devoted to piety and religion; he was consecrated and received his pall from the pope in 759, and dying on August 25, 762, was buried within this monastery, near his predecessor, in the new chapel erected by him, and, as is said, with the same precipitation. (fn. 64)
13. LAMBERT, called by others, Janbert, being abbot of the neighbouring monastery of St. Augustine, was promoted to this see in 762, on the feast of the Purification, was consecrated next year, (fn. 65) and received his pall from the pope. Whilst abbot, he came twice to this convent of Christ-church, to demand the corpse, first of Cuthbert, then of Bregwyn, to be delivered to him, in order for their interment in the church of his monastery, according to usual custom; the latter time he came attended with armed men, resolving to take the corpse of Bregwyn by force, in case his demand was not complied with; but the monks fearing this might be the case, had secured it safe under ground before he came for it, so he returned without success; upon which the convent of St. Augustine made their appeal to the court of Rome, and prosecuted the cause with the utmost rigour. To silence this dispute, the monks of Christ-church elected Lambert for their archbishop, and their adversaries, out of respect to him, ceased to give them any further trouble. (fn. 66) In his time, king Offa having taken great displeasure at the inhabitants of Caterbury, it was the occasion of continual troubles to him, for that king erected a new archbishopric at Lichfield, and obtained of the pope authority for Eadluph, bishop there, to add as a province to it, the dioceses of Worcester, Leicester, Sidnacester, Hereford, Helmham, and Dunwich, so that there was left to the archbishop of Canterbury, for his province, only those of London, Winchester, Rochester, and Sherborne. (fn. 67) On his death on August 12, 790, (fn. 68) he disappointed the monks of Christ-church very much, for perceiving his end approach, he took care by his own express will and desire, to be bureid in St. Augustine's, (fn. 69) where he was very honourably interred, with much pomp, in the chapter-house. (fn. 70)
14. ATHELAND was elected to this archbishopric in the same year that his predecessor died. He was a learned, pious and good man, and is said to have had great ablities; he had been first abbot of Malmesbury, then bishop of Winchester, and thence promoted to this see, being consecrated in 793, (fn. 71) and receiving his pall from the pope at Rome; by his means king Offa became a good benefactor to this church, (fn. 72) after whose death he prevailed with his successor king Ceonulph and pope Leo III. to abolish the above-mentioned new archbishopric of Lichfield, and reduce the whole into its former state. (fn. 73) In the year 798, he held a great council at Baccancelde, in which he presided, king Ceolnulf with several bishops and abbots being present at it, and another next year at Clovesho, in the presence of the same king. (fn. 74) The obituary records his having recovered several alienated lands to his church. Having sat thirteen years, he died in 803, (fn. 75) and was buried, by his own particular order, in his own monastery of Christ-church, in the new church or chapel of St. John Baptist. (fn. 76)
15. WLFRED from the stalls of the monks, or rather from the archidiaconal dignity, was advanced to the archiepiscopal throne in the year 803, and was consecrated by the pope, and received the pall from him at Rome, next year. The compiler of the antiquities of the British church, and bishop Godwyn, have recorded, that this archbishop (who kept possession of this see a good number of years, viz. about 28) did nothing worthy of remembrance; (fn. 77) but if they had regarded the records and evidences of the antient benefactions to this church, they would have seen that those of this archbishop by far exceeded in number and greatness, the benefactions of any one of his predecessors. This appears in the instrument of donations, published in Mr. Somner's appendix, (fn. 78) and yet more fully in the evidences of Christ-church, printed at the end of Thorn's Chronicle, in the Decem. Scriptores, (fn. 79) and in the obituaries of the archbishops. (fn. 80) In these they would have learned that he not only bought lands and gave them to the church, but procured others from the king, and recovered some which had been taken from the church; indeed his particular benefactions amount to twenty-nine in number. This agrees well with the character which Gervas gives of him, of being a most prudent man, acting at all times with courage and resolution, stoutly asserting the rights of his church, and ever consulting the good of it. (fn. 81) In the year 816, he held a council at Cealc-hythe, (fn. 82) and in 821, he presided with Beornulph, king of Mercia, at a synodal council, held at Clovesho. (fn. 83) In his time the monks of this church died, all but five. (fn. 84) Arch bishop Wlfred died on 30th August, 829, (fn. 85) and was buried in his own church, in the church or chapel of St. John. (fn. 86)
16. FLWOLOFILD, or as others call him, Theololgild, succeeded him, but continued in the see only for the space of three months, (fn. 87) and dying in 830, he was buried in the monastery of Christ-church; (fn. 88) one, named Syred, (fn. 89) succeeded him, but deceasing before he had taken full possession of this patriarchal chair, he is not reckoned among the list of archbishops. (fn. 90)
17. CEOLNOTH was elected archbishop on August 27, the same year, (fn. 91) received his pall from the pope, and continued in this see upwards of thirty eight years, all which were full of troubles and dangers, by the continual invasions of the Danes. He brought secular clerks into his church to assist the five remaining monks who were left in it in archbishop Wlfred's time, (fn. 92) and purchased with his own money the village of Chart, which he gave to the church; a great benefaction in those times. (fn. 93) He died in 870, and was buried in his own monastery of Christ-church, (fn. 94) in the south cross of the nave, before the altar of St. Benedict, where his body remained after the rebuilding of it by Lanfranc.
18. ATHELRED, a monk of this church, succeeded to this archbishopric, with the consent of Ethelred and Alured his brother, soon after the death of Ceolnoth being confirmed, and receiving the pall from the pope's hands; he continued in this see near eighteen years, during which, the times were full of storms and perils, by the continual invasions of the Danes. He expelled those seculars out of his church, which his predecessor had brought into it, and made up the number of the monks again. (fn. 95) He is said to have consecrated two bishops of Landaff successively, and a bishop of St. David's, in his own cathedral church; he restored five bishoprics among the West Saxons, which had been left destitute of their bishops (fn. 96) He died in 888, and was buried within the monastery of his own church; (fn. 97) on the death of Athelred or Eldred, as he is written by some, king Alfred bestowed the archbishopric on Grimbald, who then lived in a monastic state at Winchester, of which he was afterwards abbot; but he peremptorily refusing to accept of it, Plegmund was, by his recommendation, made archbishop. (fn. 98)
19. PLEGMUND was accordingly elected archbishop in 890. (fn. 99) He was a native of Mercia, and having retired from the world had led a king of hermit's life. (fn. 100) He was a man of liberal education, being one of those learned men who had been preceptor to and had instructed king Alfred; being elected archbishop, he was consecrated and received the pall from pope Formosus at Rome, where he purchased for a great sum of money the relics of St. Blase, which he gave to his church. He died in 923, in a good old age, having sat thirty-four years, and was buried in the monastery of his own church, in the chapel or church of St. John Baptist.
20. ATHELM, by some called Aldhun, bishop of Wells, and uncle to St. Dunstan, (fn. 101) succeeded him as archbishop, and received his pall from the pope. (fn. 102) He is said by some, not to have been a monk as all his predecessors had been, though according to others he had been abbot of Glastonbury. (fn. 103) In 924, he crowned king Athelstane at Kingston. (fn. 104) He died in 925, and was buried with his predecessors. (fn. 105)
21. WLFELM, bishop of Wells, was next elected to this see, (fn. 106) and received the pall from the pope.—He died, according to Matthew Westminster, in 934, (fn. 107) or as others say, so late as 941, (fn. 108) and was buried in the church or chapel of St. John, within his own monastery. (fn. 109) He was present at a great synod held at Greateley, in which were present all the great and wise men that king Athelstane could get together, when all those laws which the king had made were confirmed. (fn. 110)
22. ODO, surnamed Severus, bishop of Sherborne, succeeded him in 941, and received his pall from the pope. He was a Dane by birth, and is by some said to have been a soldier before he took to the church. His parents having in vain dissuaded him from embracing Christianity, turned him out unprovided into the world; thus exposed, he applied to Athelm, a nobleman and Christian in the court of Alfred; who, pleased with the lad's appearance, sent him to school and educated him in the Latin and Greek tongutes. Having entered into holy orders, he, by his own merits and the interest of his patron Athelm, passed rapidly through the inferior stations in the church, and was ordained a priest before the age prescribed by the canons, and was not long after consecrated bishop of Sherborne; and on the death of Wlselm, the world turned their eyes towards this pious, learned, and valiant bishop, as the fittest person to fill this patriarchal chair, in which, though his zeal for religion seemed to be sincere and servent, yet his bold alpiring spirit, no longer under any restraint, led him to exercise his power with a very high hand. On his promotion to it, that he might be received with more welcome and propriety at Canterbury, he went over to and received the monastic tonsure abroad, which made him the more acceptable to the monks here. (fn. 111)
In 945 archbishop Odo consecrated king Edmund at Kingston, after whose murder next year, he consecrated Eadred his brother at the same place, who received his crown from him; and he afterwards consecrated there, Eadred's successor Eadwin. (fn. 112) He was a good benefactor to his cathedral, by new making the roof of it, which had become ruinous through length of time, (fn. 113) and in 948 removed into it the bones of Wilfrid, archbishop of York, who died in 711, that church having fallen down. (fn. 114) In 943 he published his famous pastoral letter to the clergy and people of his province, commonly called the constitutions of Odo. Besides these there were several ecclesiastical canons made, in a great council of the clergy and laity which was held at London, the year following, by king Edmund. Though some place his death so late as 961, yet it happened more probably in 958, (fn. 115) when he was buried in his own cathedral church. (fn. 116)
Osbern has left us the history of his life, and praises him much for his sanctity and integrity. (fn. 117) He was canonized after his death, and is therefore usually stiled St. Odo.
23. ELSIN, bishop of Winchester, (fn. 118) succeeded Odo as archbishop, whose inveterate enemy he was, and continued his hatred to him after his death, which he shewed by trampling over his grave. Being named to this see by the king's authority, he is said by the monkish writers to have been intruded into it. (fn. 119) He was of affinity to the blood royal, and is said to have been of very extraordinary learning. He perished on the Alps with cold, as he was-travelling towards Rome for his pall. (fn. 120) He died in 958 or 9, (fn. 121) and was brought into England by his attendants and buried at Winchester. On his death Brithelm, bishop of Wells, was elected to this see, but feeling himself unequal to the weight of it, and being of a soft and gentle disposition, he declined it, and by the king's command returned to the see of Wells again, (fn. 122) where he died in 973, and was there buried.
24. DUNSTAN, bishop of London, was upon this appointed to succeed him in this patriarchal chair, in the year 960, and that with the unanimous consent of the church, (fn. 123) and went the same year to Rome for his consecration and pall. He is said to have been descended of a noble family in Somersetshire, and to have been educated in Glastonbury abbey, of which he became abbot, and being a great favourite of king Edmund, that king endowed it for his sake with many peculiar privileges. He was afterwards promoted to the see of Worcester, and from thence was translated to London. (fn. 124) On king Edmund's death he stood still higher in the favour of his brother and successor king Edred, to whom he was confessor and chief confident, during which he employed all his influence in promoting the interest of his own, the Benedictine order of monks, of which he was a most active and zealous patron.
The conduct of Dunstan whilst he was in power, which was exaggerated by his persuading Edred to give by his last will, immense treasures to churches and monasteries, by which the crown was left in a state of indigence, rendered him so very odious to Edwi, who succeeded his uncle Edred in 955, and his rude behaviour to him and his beloved queen Ediva, raised the resentment of that prince so high, that he deprived him of all his preferments, and drove him into exile.
The banishment of Dunstan was a severe blow to the monks, who were upon that expelled from several of their monasteries, and the married secular clergy were placed in them, in their room. But their sufferings were not of a long continuance; for Edgar, the younger brother of Edwi, having raised a successful rebellion against his unhappy brother, and usurped all his dominions on the north side of the river Thames, recalled Dunstan, and gave him the bishopric of Worcester in 957; from which time he was the chief adviser and confident of king Edgar, who became the sole monarch of England, by the death of his brother, and presently afterwards advanced Dunstan to the archiepiscopal chair.
Being now possessed of the primacy, and assured of the royal support and assistance, the archbishop, with St. Oswald and St. Ethelwald, began the execution of the design he had long meditated, of endeavouring to persuade the secular canons in their cathedrals and other monasteries, to put away their wives and take the monastic vows and habits; but finding these of little or no avail, they proceeded to effect it by violence, and the king gave them a formal commission to expel the married canons out of all the cathedrals and larger monasteries, and promised to assist them in the execution of it with all his power. Under the influence of these prelates, the king, however profligate he might otherwise be, shewed a constant attention to ecclesiastical affairs, and held several councils, (fn. 125) one of which, in particular, was at Winchester in 975, in which several canons were made for the regulation of the church, among which were those sixty-seven, called the canons of king Edgar. (fn. 126)
The commission for expelling the secular canons was executed with great rigour, but on the king's death in 975, it received a check. The sufferings of the persecuted canons had excited much compassion, and many of the nobility now espoused their cause, and in some measure effected their restoration. In the reign of king Ethelred, surnamed the Unready, who succeeded his brother Edward in 979, the English were engaged in such continual wars with the Danes, and involved by their invasions in so many calamities, that they had no leisure to attend to ecclesiastical affairs, which renders the church history of these times as barren as the state of it was melancholy. (fn. 127)
As archbishop Dunstan was so great a patron and restorer of monastic institutions, the grateful monks, who were almost the only historians of those dark ages, have bestowed the most extravagant praises on him, and have represented him as the greatest worker of miracles, as well as the highest favorite of Heaven that ever lived. Having sat in this see for upwards of twenty-seven years, he died on May 19, in 988, æt. 64, (fn. 128) and was buried in his own cathedral, that is (and so it must be understood of all his predecessors, said to be there buried) in the old church, notin the modern; Osbern says, near the altar, and Gervas says, in the undercroft. (fn. 129)
After his death he was, like his predecessor St. Odo, canonized, (fn. 130) for his piety and miracles; and his relics soon became of such high account, that archbishop Lanfranc, when he rebuilt this church in the Conqueror's reign, very solemnly translated his corpse, from the place of its first sepulture, into his new church, and there new entombed it (with the pontificals, in which, according to the times, it was habited, and a plate of lead, bearing an inscription, to shew whose body it was) near unto the high altar on the south side, from which time the tomb had the denomination of St. Dunstan's altar. (fn. 131) Whoever observes the pavement on the south side of the steps between archbishop Stratford's and Sudbury's monuments, with the gilded work on the wall and pillar there, will easily discern some such thing taken from thence, as questionless this altar was at the clearing of the church of such ornaments at or shortly after the reformation.
Whilst it was standing there, this saint and his relics were of such high estimation, and they became so beneficial to the place that enjoyed them, by the offerings to his altar, that the monks of Glastonbury began to boast in king Henry VII.'s time, that they had them in possession, having been translated thither from Canterbury, as Capgrave, in the life of St. Dunstan, affirms, in the year 1012. Upon which, those monks built him a shrine, by which and other means, the benefit formerly accruing to Christ-church, was turned to Glastonbury. This so troubled the archbishop of Canterbury and his monks, that bethinking themselves of a speedy remedy, they resolved to make a scrutiny in his tomb or altar, by opening it, to see whether his corpse and relics were really inclosed there or not. The scrutiny was accordingly made, and the searching found in favour of the monks of Christchurch, that the corpse and relics were really in it; upon which archbishop Warham, who then sat in the see of Canterbury, immediately directed and sent his letters to the abbot and convent of Glastonbury, straightly charging them to desist from all further boasting of their possession of St. Dunstan's relics; which letters he was forced to repeat, before they would obey, so loth were they to forego so great a profit. (fn. 132)